cover image Listen to Me

Listen to Me

Hannah Pittard. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25 (192p) ISBN 978-0-544-71444-1

A road trip from Chicago to Virginia is transformed into a complex mental journey in Pittard’s (Reunion) third novel. Mark and Maggie, a 30-something couple, are coping with the aftermath of Maggie’s mugging at gunpoint. To make matters worse, an attacker with a similar MO subsequently murdered a neighbor. Mark decides to push up the date of their annual visit to his parents’ cottage in Virginia to give Maggie—who has taken to wearing a bathrobe, zoning out and scouring the Internet for negative stories, and hiding a knife under the mattress—a much-needed break. Soon into their journey, a destructive storm forces them to find shelter in an out-of-the-way hotel. While the storm rages outside, the characters contemplate their own inner storms. Mark, a college professor, frustrated and baffled by his wife’s increasing dysfunction, considers an affair with a former research assistant, while feeling fiercely protective of his wife. Maggie, a veterinarian, stymied by her fears, longs to get back to her normal self. Chilling events ratchet up the suspense as well as magnify the couple’s strengths and weaknesses in Pittard’s memorable examination of the precarious terrain of marriage. (July)